I’ve long been a fan of multi-media digital resources for my own reference and/or preparation. The Teaching Company (now called, it seems, The Great Courses) is perhaps the pioneer in this area (they contract with college professors to record lectures and courses that they sell to the general public, first in CD form and now CD, DVD, and digital format), but Apple’s iTunesU and, ultimately, the MOOC movement have exploded the number of available resources for everyone. These resources allowed me to prep for my teaching day during my commute; I would know what book of Homer’s Iliad I was teaching, and would listen to a lecture on it on the way in to school.
The problem has always been, though, how to store, organize, and deploy these resources. When MOOCs were hot, I was thrilled to find the resources available to me through Coursera. (For my subject area, the humanities, and specifically the Classics and Latin, Coursera has more resources than the other providers like EdX or Udacity (the latter of which is apparently out of the MOOC business).) I started downloading video lecture after video lecture. I would change the file name, import them into a school-specific iTunes Library (so that they wouldn’t clutter my music iTunes Library; to create a second or new iTunes Library, hold down the option key when you open iTunes; it will give you the option of creating a new one; you have to remember to use the option key when opening iTunes to switch between iTunes Libraries). I even had old iPods to which I imported these so that I could listen to them during my commute. At the risk of stating the obvious, this was cool at first but quickly lost its appeal given the work and time involved.
I noticed today the Coursera app among the App Store’s featured apps and decided to check it out. And right there, in the Coursera app, is the work that I had undertaken above, when I was first exploring Coursera. The courses are available directly through the app, with the lectures available for streaming or, it seems (haven’t done this yet), the lectures are available for download, which means that, as I do with Podcasts, I can download what I want when I want it. The limitation, of course, is that it is dependent on the courses being available but, as long as they are, the lectures are right there and available.
So I’ve not done much with it yet, because I just discovered it tonight, but I’m excited to use the Coursera app and to make my prep work more streamlined.